Excess abdominal fat can be a serious health hazard. That excess fat not only looks unattractive but significantly increases the risk of developing maladies such as stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea and some forms of cancer. Belly fat cells are biologically active, releasing harmful hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect your health. Therefore, it is extremely vital to have a flat and toned mid-section. But, achieving the ever elusive 6-pack can not only be daunting but may seem impossible. Endless number of crunches and not being able to eat your favourite foods can put a damper on your determination to get those flat abs. Following are some useful tips to obtain the flat tummy in a holistic and centered approach.

1.) Yogic asanas to reduce belly fat: Yoga leads to reduction in unwanted fat, increasing flexibility and calming the mind by reducing stress which is known to accumulate extra fat around the mid-section. Yogic asanas are known to decrease hormones that increase stress and increase insulin sensitivity which breaks down food for energy as opposed to storing it as fat. Asanas such as Naukasana, Chaturanga, Chakrasana and Santolanasana are very effective in tightening up that stubborn belly.

2.) Diet: A good nutritious, balanced diet is as important as an exercise routine. Exercising causes muscles fibers to breakdown which recover by generating more muscle tissue. Having more muscle than fat revs up the metabolism of the body which in turn burns more fat. Therefore, following an eating regimen which involves more proteins will shed that extra fat from the mid-section. With so many options out there it can be difficult to decide what foods should be consumed and which ones to avoid. Below are few groups of superfoods that should be included in the daily diet:

  • Almonds and other nuts with skin: Nuts are an excellent snack to satisfy in between meal cravings. A very nutritious substitute for junk foods like potato chips, samosas etc.
  • Beans, Pulses and Legumes: One of the main sources of protein in a vegetarian diet. Helps build muscles, burns fat and tunes up digestion.
  • Green Leafy Vegetables: Vegetables have many vital minerals and vitamins essential for the body. Leafy vegetables also reverse the aging process.
  • Berries and fresh fruits: Fruits are another healthy option for in between snacks. Fruits have high water content and keep you full longer and reduce cravings. When eaten raw they add much needed fiber to the diet which is proven to be slimming.
  • Dairy products (low-fat milk, cheese): Main source of calcium which is known to breakdown fat at the cellular level and kick up metabolism. Dairy products also support digestion.
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals: A whole grain includes all edible parts of the grain in its natural state. Whole grains have a high fiber content which helps in burning more calories and maintaining a healthy colon.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is known to reduce levels of obesity even though it has a high fat content. It is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants and is gentle on the digestive system.

Adding these superfoods is certainly beneficial but eating them at right times and in correct quantities expedites belly weight loss. Eating at least 6 meals a day keeps you fuller and helps avoiding binging on unhealthy snacks. Usual larger meals should be alternated with small meals every 2-3 hours. Eating every few hours also keeps your rate of metabolism high which burns the unnecessary fat. Monitoring liquid in take is also imperative on the path to a flat stomach. Alcohol should be avoided by all means. It not only reduces burning of fat but specifically adds stubborn fat around the waistline. Alcohol inhibits hormones that help in building muscle. Often thirst is misinterpreted as hunger so drinking 8-10 glasses of water keeps you satiated and helps avoid eating empty calories. Water also flushes out toxins that are released with burning of fat, carries nutrients to muscles and kicks up metabolism.

3.) Reduce Stress and Depression:  Belly girth can be an indication of stress level in the body. When we are stressed, the body believes that it is at risk of deprivation of food. This makes the body hold on to the stubborn fat to keep it from starving. Increased stress levels cause irritability, negativity, cravings of sugary and processed foods which only increase unwanted fat. Prolonged stress causes increased sustained levels of a steroid cortisol, which is the second most abundant hormone in the body increasing appetite for fat and carbohydrates which in turn causes over eating. High cortisol levels cause increase in visceral fat deposition which significantly increase risk of heart attack, diabetes, stroke etc.  Increased cortisol levels also increase fatigue which cause a vicious cycle of no exercise and overeating. The best way to deal with chronic stress is to face it head on, be it dysfunctional relationships, bad finances or pressures of life. Physical activity, specifically yoga is a great stress buster. Regular practice of yoga increases relaxation and regulate cortisol levels which maintain blood glucose. In addition to yogic asanas, meditation is a very centered and holistic way to reduce stress, calm the mind and body.

Positive thoughts and belief are essential to achieving that flat stomach and overall weight loss. Constantly having a negative body image and bombarding yourself with non constructive critiques only makes it that much harder to reach the goal.